Best wishes, Melissa Cannon!
From the start, it seemed like Melissa Cannon was destined to work at Nourish California.
A decade ago she requested an informational interview with us, as she was interested in connecting with organizations who “work to reduce food insecurity and promote equitable, healthy food access.” In that first meeting, it was clear that we were a match. She had skills and experience in food access from her then-recent work with the California Department of Education. She had lived experience with food insecurity. She had connections to and an understanding of communities in California (the Central Valley, the Sierra Foothills) that could be great assets to a statewide organization like ours. She was already an active advocate who was responding to our action alerts. She had it all. But we didn't have a job opening.
Following that initial meeting, we stayed in touch. We shared job openings from other organizations in the movement, in the hope that we could at least be colleagues if we couldn’t be co-workers. When we finally had an open position in 2013, Melissa was already deep into acquiring more skills and experience for another employer. Finally, in 2015, we both had an opening. In the intervening years, Melissa had maintained her interest in policy advocacy while working for a county WIC Department and then for the Native American Health Center. While destiny was delayed for a few years, when Melissa joined us in December of 2015, she was even better prepared to tackle the challenges of a Policy Advocate at Nourish California.
In her more than six years with Nourish California, Melissa’s contributions are many and lasting. Her passion and persistence led to several policy victories, culminating last year in the historic effort to secure funding for child care meals and the desperately needed guidance on sharing health information to support enrollment in nutrition programs. While it might be easier to list the few things that Melissa doesn’t do, we should acknowledge her leadership on our federal policy agenda, the Better with WIC campaign, and the formative work she undertook regarding older adults, local educational funding, and the health care-nutrition connection.
We are a better state -- and we are also a better organization -- thanks to Melissa Cannon. She initiated our ethical storytelling efforts. She led the way to modernizing our website. She modeled and supported increased advocacy through social media. She let us vicariously experience her world travels and climbing adventures.
We are not saying “goodbye” to Melissa as she is not going far. She is joining the public sector by taking a position with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (Western Regional Office). And while Melissa was destined to work at Nourish California, other partners in the movement need her as well. In her new role, she will be a part of the team responsible for weighing in on proposed policies and regulations in the western region. Best wishes, Melissa!